Novelist Steve Stern found his fictional world by searching for a lost Jewish tradition
by Steve Stern
June 1, 2015 I grew up wanting something I couldn’t name. I was raised in the Reform Jewish “tradition,” though the word here is gross hyperbole. The temple I attended as a kid in Memphis represented a variety of Judaism designed to be invisible, to blend indistinguishably with the Christ-haunted Southern landscape. As a consequence, I was virtually untouched by tradition and had not even an awareness of its absence. Nevertheless, one Sunday, playing hooky from confirmation class, I went exploring the old red brick pile of our temple along with a couple of partners in crime.
Published Monday, 1 June 2015
Taking a love of the printed word to a new level
May 8, 2015 When one of my old friends finally asked me what exactly I was doing in Nashville, I said I was working in a letterpress shop that specialized in nineteenth-century printing techniques. I left out the fact that I wasn’t being paid. Even so, at the moment, it sounded a whole lot better than toiling away at law school.
Published Friday, 8 May 2015
There are times when the only recourse to automotive despair is Neil Diamond
by Morey Hill
April 24, 2015 It started off with a low, quiet groan. The kind of noise my roommate, Chet, makes when I mention things like “utility bills” or “soap.” Although something clearly wasn’t right, I just didn’t want to spend the money to get it fixed. It was a subtle noise, and my approach was to drown it out—I turned up the radio.
Published Friday, 24 April 2015
Perhaps history is anything that is found in the past and repeated in the future
April 20, 2015 The steps to our little balcony seem narrower each time, my hands tracing the delicate staircase. I forget the feeling of cool metal under my fingertips and dust that covers every millimeter of space until I have made it to the top, realizing what I’ve missed all along. There stand my grandparents in the doorframe with stolen time in their skin and longing in their veins.
Published Monday, 20 April 2015
An only child contemplates her unlikely path to motherhood
April 20, 2015 My parents entered into marriage under the duress of an unplanned pregnancy, and spent the next nine brutal years locked up together, punishing each other for the mistake. By the time I graduated high school I had decided that I would never have children.
Published Monday, 20 April 2015
A Chapter 16 writer considers the complications of kindness
March 25, 2015 One day in early January the weather reports were full of breathless predictions about a brutal cold snap on its way. When I drove by Leon’s house that afternoon I saw the dog out there, and knowing it would soon shiver in a sub-zero wind chill, I suddenly couldn’t take it anymore. It was unbearable to continue doing nothing.
Published Wednesday, 25 March 2015
At a time of new beginnings, novelist Adam Ross contemplates his past
by Adam Ross
January 5, 2015 “I write these words as a man with a Ph.D. in failure, and I commenced my subject’s study on the day I decided to become a writer, a life-changing choice I made in 1986, after taking a creative-writing class my sophomore year at Vassar College. How many times did I fail? Let me count the ways.” As the rest of the country makes resolutions for self-improvement, celebrated Nashville novelist Adam Ross considers the value of failure.
Published Monday, 5 January 2015
A Chapter 16 writer tells a tale of two Christmases
December 19, 2014 When I was a child, Christmas at Granny Browning’s house was about tradition, not pleasure. Christmas at home was an orgy of expensive presents and junk food. Both of them were wonderful and awful—and both were gifts to last a lifetime.
Published Friday, 19 December 2014
In launching a nonprofit literary center, a writer nurtures her own creative life in surprising ways
December 18, 2014 Six women gathered around and bravely shared their writing, some for the first time. Their enthusiasm and laughter were contagious, their easy camaraderie a stroke of luck. Workshops don’t always give rise to a circle of friends, but this one did. I could see that much. What I couldn’t see yet was how it was also working as the start of something else.
Published Thursday, 18 December 2014
A boy in a coal town finds his way out of the dust
by Pete Kopcsak
December 17, 2014 Mothers stopped peeling potatoes and scrubbing clothes to stand on bare porches and watch. We fell on the weeds in front of us and cupped our hands into imaginary telescopes and pressed them to our eyes to watch the kite as long as we could.
Published Wednesday, 17 December 2014
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